Dr. Ayaz Ahmad
A group of Sayed-Ashraaf social elites met RSS head Mohan Bhagwat in Nagpur recently. It included former Lieutenant Governor of Delhi Najeeb Jung, former Chief Election Commissioner SY Quraishi, former Vice Chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University Lieutenant General (Retd.) Zameer Uddin Shah, Rashtriya Lok Dal national vice-president Shahid Siddiqui and businessman Saeed Shervani. From the RSS side, Sah Sarkaryavah Krishna Gopal was also present besides Mohan Bhagwat. Now that Sayed-Ashraaf social elites have officially made overtures to Brahmin-Savarna power elites and the latter have responded in a reconciliatory tone, are Muslims and Hindus out of danger? No and no! Post-independence, Sayed-Ashraaf never faced any real danger from Brahmin-Savarna including their Hindutva variant in the first place. The danger was to Pasmanda-Bahujan in the form of spectacular/quotidian religious and caste violence. For the Sayed-Ashraaf, the dilemma was always whether to drop their elder brother’s claim vis-a-vis the Brahmin-Savarna, compromise on Islamophilic supremacism, and get absorbed into the family as the younger one. With Cong-RSS at the helm, it was a difficult call as it always maintained ganga-jamuni peace on the surface to comfort the Sayed-Ashraaf social elites, giving them perpetual hope of revival. But the RSS-BJP has made that decision much easier for Sayed-Ashraaf. The silent rush of Sayed-Ashraaf towards the RSS-BJP post 2014 was all too visible. But the present open walk to Nagpur has been hastened by two factors: 1) realization that RSS-BJP is here to stay; and 2) a fraction of the politically ambitious Pasmanda is drifting towards RSS-BJP.
However, the Sayed-Ashraaf absorption into the RSS-BJP family will remove only one of the constituting logics of militant Hindutva, namely Islamophilic supremacism. The second and increasingly more important logic to reproduce ‘the Muslim other’ comes from the challenge which Brahmin-Savarna face from the democratic assertion of the Phule-Ambedkarite Bahujan discourse. If Brahmin-Savarna are to retain their control over 90% wealth, property and resources of the country, they must contain the Dalit, Adivasi, Pasmanda Bahujan movements within the Hindu-Muslim binary. The Hindu identity can not be reproduced unless there exists a hostile Muslim other. Hence, Hindu-Muslim binary will continue to be produced through covert and overt violence of the caste establishment. The wrath of this category violence will continue to be borne overwhelmingly by the Pasmanda-Bahujan.
While removal of the first constitutive logic of militant Hindutva remains exclusively with the Sayed-Ashraaf, the second logic is beyond their comprehension. In any case, it would be atrocious to suggest that the Bahujan-Pasmanda of this country give up their democratic struggle for freedom and equality for the sake of creating ganga-jamuni peace. What is the way out then? I think absorption of Sayed Ashraaf within Brahmin-Savarna will clear many cobwebs among various shades of democratic elements in society. It will make the frontier between the Bahujan (majority) and the Alpjan (minority) as vivid as it can get. The Bahujan, flagged by Dalit, Pasmanda, Adivasi, Ati-Pichda will have the numerical superiority over the Alpjan, constituted by Brahmin, Sayed, Ashraaf, Savarna. However, the latter will come to the fight with all its financial, institutional and media resources, which still gives an edge to the Alpjan. But no matter how promising that fight might look, it still depends on the capacity of Sayed-Ashraaf to get themselves accepted within their Brahmin-Savarna family after the bitter battle of partition that they fought with their kith and kin. Although post-partition Sayed-Ashraaf did not pose any real threat to Brahmin-Savarna, a reunion among them remains unlikely. I don’t think those Sayed-Ashraaf social elites who met Mohan Bhagwat to plead their case have the capacity to bring about a family reunion. Nor do I see any possibility of them acquiring such a capacity any time soon. I hear no conversation among Sayed-Ashraaf families or organizations, which can be translated into destruction of Islamophilic supremacy widely prevalent among them in favor of the slightest democratic accommodation. Sayed-Ashraaf social elites who met Bhagwat know this very well. Otherwise they would have started meeting the heads of Tablighi Jamaat, Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, AIMPLB, Devbandis, Barelvis and so on for the gradual withdrawal of Islamophilic supremacism and endorsement of democracy. The Bhagwat led RSS knows it too. That is why he flattered those Sayed-Ashraaf by ‘don’t call us kafir’ and ‘don’t touch our cow’ lollipops. Moreover, the Sayed-Ashraaf supplied Islamophilic supremacism is the only affective surface on which militant Hindutva can survive. So, even the first logic of militant Hindutva is here to stay. These overtures are nothing more than a fleeting shadow cast by small men.
The hope, if any, lies with the Phule-Ambedkarite Bahujan discourse, which has a vision of a democratic society. The Bahujan do not suffer from numerical inferiority, nor do they have any theocratic supremacy. It is the only class at present that has no compulsive need for violent production of any essential identity. In fact, the Bahujan are in the greatest need of social peace to make up for the loss of decades and centuries in the field of educational and economic opportunities caused by the Ashraaf-Savarna hegemony. The Bahujan discourse keeps the most marginalized groups like Dalit, Pasmanda, Adivasi, and Ati-Pichda at the forefront of its concerns. This Bahujan discourse challenges the Hindu-Muslim binary like no other. It has all the intellectual, historical, social, cultural, and political arsenal to take on the Hindu-Muslim juggernaut. Herein lies the promise of an egalitarian society with a democratic ethos. Bahujan democracy alone cannot remove the existential danger to ‘Muslim’ and ‘Hindu’ identities incessantly manufactured by Savarna and Ashraaf, respectively.
 The author is deeply interested in Ashraaf-Savarna thought, society and politics. He comes from Ashraaf social location.
Dr. Ayaz Ahmad is Associate Professor at Unitedworld School of Law, Karnavati University, Gujarat. He teaches Constitution and studies legislative and judicial behavior from an Ambedkarite perspective.